Ukrainian Bank Kangaroo Jihad

I’m in a bank. There’s a gig on. Someone from the Ukrainians has come to the US to play. J is already in there. I get a ticket with an $11 note, and buy some snacks, and a commemorative plank of wood with bands names painted on. I joke that it’s my indie band (b)log. The band is starting. I climb up wire mesh shelving on the walls to sit on a wire shelf and watch the band. A bouncer collects bits of wood to sell. I don’t let him take mine. The band begin. Batyar, their version of Bigmouth Strikes Again. I’m sat next to a young doctor. I offer to buy him a drink. I climb down the shelves, now stocked with chocolate bars. One shelf slides out as I hold on to it. A bar drops. I retrieve it from atop a man’s black leather shoe. “20Β’” the bouncer says, and a stranger gives me 10Β’ to put in a slot on the wall.   I walk outside. Someone I know asks me why I use this bank. “They’re all interesting people”, I tell them. They head inside, to open an account. 
I watching TV. An ad shows a city destroyed by jihadists with kangaroo bombs. Then it invites me to join an Odinist league, to combat the evil kangaroo bombers. 
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Rubbish is Made of Stars, too

I’m sleeping in a hotel. R is in the other bed. We are on the ground floor, and through open French windows, I hear the angry shouts of drunken young skinhead men in the grass outside. It’s about 5 a.m. One of them is standing his ground on a path. He tries to provoke a passerby into fighting him, telling him “Your only way out is through me, don’t try and go round”, at which the passerby circles around him on the grass and is gone. I watch through a gap in the curtains. I’m concerned they could just walk in, these unreasonable, violent oafs. I carefully close and lock the French windows. A skinhead voice sings a mocking chant about seeing spying eyes. They have noticed me. Another asks what they should do now. They are angry and frustrated and bored. 
Worried that they may try to brake in, I leave my room. I climb stairs until I reach the roof. I photograph the skinheads as they become more excitable, like children. They merge with children in the playground below. They are children. 

I return from the roof to the top floor. Gaming machines and a bar. The sounds of children running riot on the levels below. I don’t want to pass through them to escape, I’m afraid. I see a rubbish chute. I remove a bag, and slide myself down the chute into the basement. I land in a pile of discarded paperwork. I remind myself it is made of stars, like me. The lead skinhead sits on another pile. I become Frankie Howard as I obsequiously ingratiate myself to him. 
I’m on the grass outside with B. A formal meal is laid out on table cloths on the grass. B wanders off to view some artwork. I try to eat a small plate of salad, but I’m unsure which fork to use. The cutlery is jumbled up on the slight slope. A waiter suggests that he takes it away and under his breath, that I fuck off. I don’t belong here. 
B returns. She has a confession. She loves me, and wants to settle down, in a small house with a sunny back garden where children play in a safe, friendly community. She sits on my lap and I hold her as we talk. I find my umbrella. Still wet. I tell others sat on the grass about the secret to get past violent skinheads, defending one position: go around and ignore them. 
Children laugh and play in the sun on the green, green grass of a fantasy home. 

Green Sweat

Two men stand by a fire engine. It is covered in sound equipment. Cables, with electrodes are handed me. It is like a giant PlantChant device on wheels.  
BjΓΆrk stands next to me. She has electrodes too. She presses them onto my skin, experimenting. Listening, quizzically, to the sounds and notes produced. The men at the engine gesture. I explore BjΓΆrk’s skin with electrodes. Our sounds combine. Our rhythms beat against each other and overlap, until a kind of discordant harmony is reached. She sings:
“Green sweat

It came through Carlisle 

Torn with love

Held together 

With emptiness”
She’s singing about my Army surplus jumper. I ask how she knew that I bought it in Carlisle? Tears are in her eyes. We arrange to meet again. She has to be free at night, her favourite time. I agree to meet in the morning. She leads me through a garden with old walls. She tells me she loves me, and flings her top over some bushes. I go to retrieve it for her. Old ladies in black headscarves hang up washing. Dogs and children run about. I pick up the shirt, but she’s gone. I walk to a mountain road. Somewhere in the Pyrenees. A man asks me where my dogs are. He loves the theatre I write. He lets me stroke his dog. 


The Debt of Memory

J wanted to live now, pay later, or preferably not pay at all. She had no savings, a small income from part time work, and a family background of generation after generation of poverty. She didn’t want to find herself old, and poor, having travelled nowhere and experienced nothing.

She perused the search results on her cheap laptop’s screen. She was looking for a loan, or a line of credit, that she could exploit to this end. She had no security, no property, nothing to be able to guarantee that she could pay anyone back. She’d done this before, six years ago. She hadn’t even bothered to go bankrupt, just moved to another place, another job, another bank, dropped off the electoral register. After six years, the financial records were reset, her old debts sold on so many times as to be virtually untraceable. She didn’t spend the money she borrowed on physical things, like cars, or technology, or furniture, but on experiences. Travel. Cultural experiences. Drug experiences. She never took out any kind of payment protection insurance, never read the small print. It didn’t matter to her, she had no intention of making any repayments.

She opened up her photos app. Smiling, she remembered her time in Belarus and Bratislava, the people she’d met, the fun they’d had. J had been to nearly every continent. Hadn’t done Antarctica yet. That was next on the list, and some South American countries too.

There was a knock at her door. She jumped. She wasn’t expecting anyone. The doorbell was disconnected. She had a Bedsit, with shared bathrooms, in a less prosperous area of Exeter. She couldn’t think who it could be. Probably a neighbour, wanting some change for the electricity meter, or asking for her help with technology. She got that a lot, from the older people in her house.

She opens the door. A man is there. Short, rotund, grey haired, smiling, slightly familiar. He asks her name. She tells him, almost in a trance. “I’m from the company that you had a credit agreement with, about six years ago, Oblitus Credit”

“You can’t come in. I know my rights, that was an unsecured loan”, J said.

“You didn’t read the small print, did you?”, said the man.

“Are you able to make a payment today?”

“No” replied J. “You’ll have to take me to court before you get anything!”.

“Oh, that won’t be necessary,” he said. He pulled something out of his dark blue Uniglo jacket. J saw a glimpse of metal, then a flash of bright light. The man gave her a business card.

“I’m sure I’ll be hearing from you soon”.

He walked away, into the gloom of the corridor. J stood there, at her door, until the main door slammed shut. She sat on her bed. What had just happened? How had they found her? She. Needed to move out, and quick. She went back to her laptop. The photos app was still open, but something was wrong. Where she’d been looking at images of her travels, there were now just grey boxes of static. She tried to remember which pictures she’d been browsing. Then it hit her. No memories. She had no memories of her travelling. Just a blank. What had he meant, by the small print?

She googled Oblitus, the credit company. Terms and Conditions. Lots of text, scanning through it,

‘In the event of non payment, unsecured loans or credit may incur the repossession of memories deemed by the company to have been made possible by this credit agreement’.

Fuck. They’ve repossessed my memories. That thing he flashed me with. How did that work? J knew she was stuck. Without those memories, she may as well have spent her life in one place, working endless low paid jobs. She looked at the mans business card. No name. Just a phone number, an email address, and a central ‘Oblitus’ logo. She tried to remember how much she owed them. About Β£10k. Plus some interest, she was sure.

J couldn’t handle a phone conversation. This was just too weird. An email. Find out what they wanted. She hit send. Almost immediately, a reply. No interest if she agreed to their payment terms. Memories to be restored sequentially upon receipt of each payment. They already knew her income, and their prediction of her outgoings was surprisingly close to her actual budget.

Dream AdvertisingΒ 

I’m in Newton Heath, where I was born. It’s all ruins. Two guys who look like a mash up of Wham! and Trump are using part of the ruins as a garage. 
I’m on a coach. It drives into a river. As it sinks, I shout, to tell the driver that we are not a boat. Music swells, and I rise above the water, flying triumphant through ruined buildings on either side of the river. I’ve been rewarded for political awareness, or something. It feels great. Then I’m pulled out of it, and a voice says “This part of your dream is sponsored by Sky”. I’m angry that advertisers are in my dreams.  
I’m outside a door. I knock. A woman answers, and invites me to follow her down a spiral staircase. I think this is an advertising trick so I push through a door instead. Behind the door, three people are tied up. Restrained in chairs. I cautiously poke them, aware that I’m probably being recorded by ad companies. 
I leave the room and run upstairs. The woman is still looking for me. She’s joined by two blond cheerleaders, dressed in yellow. The girls fold yellow cloth as if they each carry a baby, and ridicule me with cheerleading. I grab some of the cloth, and shout my own, sarcastic, rhymes about them back. The cheerleaders want funding, for gap year travel. A man sits next to me watching them perform. He’s thinking of funding a computing project, an artificial intelligence with existential angst. He decides to fund the cheerleaders, as he will learn as much about the existential nature of human suffering, but also because “they have nice asses”. 
I take a plane to bath. Dogs everywhere in the airport. This makes me happy. 
At a friends house, I climb a curtain to put a colourful hat on a glass head, while below me a rescued hedgehog munches her way through a carpet swirling with crawling insects.